Heineken’s ‘Brewing a Better Future’ 2020 Sustainability goals target Water and CO2

Heineken’s “Brewing a Better Future” 2020 sustainability goals focus on CO2 and Water reduction according to the recent CSRwire press release.  On November 25th at the annual European Food and Drink Industry conference, Mr. Didier Debrosse, Regional President of Heineken Western Europe, highlighted the progress being made to achieve the company’s ‘Brewing a Better Future’ targets which included reducing direct and indirect CO2 emissions in its breweries by at least 40% and water consumption by at least 25% by 2020.  But I couldn’t help wondering why packaging and recycling were not more prominent subjects in Heineken’s sustainability goals.Heineken’s sustainability initiatives are indeed lofty and far reaching.  They include:

  • introducing a sustainable agricultural sorghum project that is helping to alleviate poverty in Sierra Leone
  • reducing road transport by 100,000 trucks annually and reducing CO2 emission by 35% in the Netherlands by using an in-land shipping terminal to transport export-beer to the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp
  • replacing fridges issued to customers that will be based on ‘green’ technology
  • investing in new brewing technology in Seville, Spain, leading to a 40% reduction in water consumption, making it one of the most efficient breweries in the world in terms of water consumption
  • developing a CO2 neutral brewery in Austria

While it’s clear that a key focus area for Heineken’s ‘Brewing a Better Future’ sustainability program is improvement of its environmental impact, I was surprised by the lack of discussion regarding Heineken’s recycling rates, packaging composition and plans to increase the former or decrease the latter.

Even a quick search on the word “recycle” turned up only one result on Heineken International’s website in its environmental section which discusses the type of packaging used (though not in much detail) and its ability to be recycled.  The term “recycle” doesn’t show up at all in a search of their 2009 Sustainability report. However one of their 2012 targets listed in that report is to design and adopt a new packaging policy with agreed targets for carbon reduction.

Perhaps Heineken views recycling as the purview of the national and local governments in which its products are sold.  However, I would encourage this bottling leader to engage those stakeholders in its packaging and recycling discussions so that we can brew a better future together.  Something we could all drink to!

Image Credit:  nathanmac87 via Flickr under CC license.

Written by Emily DeMasi

Emily McKinin DeMasi is a 2011 MBA/ MA Public Policy candidate and Peace Corps Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her thesis work concerns Corporate Social Responsibility in the United States. She also works as a Research Fellow at Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in downtown Pittsburgh. Emily has worked as an Associate in a Private Equity Placement Firm in NY and as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in Ivory Coast, West Africa. She hopes to combine her business background with her passion for development and inspire others in the fields of Sustainability and CSR.


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